The 20 most talked-about stories in Phoenix in 2012

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX –  What a year it’s been! 2012 was filled with stories that grabbed headlines and got folks talking. Which Arizona story do you think had the most impact this year on our community?

In no particular order, here's a list of stories that made big news this year.

1. Gov. Jan Brewer shakes her finger at President Obama

It's the finger-pointing picture seen ‘round the world.  It was snapped during an exchange between Gov. Jan Brewer and PresidentBarack Obama shortly after he landed at Mesa Gateway Airport in January. When their discussion turned to Brewer’s book, the pair’s exchange got heated, and the image of her pointing her finger at the president was captured for all to see. Brewer later said she meant no disrespect.

2. Mother of Jhessye Shockley pleads not guilty to murder and child abuse

In September, Jerice Hunter, the mother of 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley,  pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse. Little Jhessye disappeared in October 2011. Her body was never found despite a months-long search by police. Now authorities believe her remains are in a landfill. Jerice Hunter was arrested Sept. 6.

3. The Saga of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house

The David and Gladys Wright house in Arcadia faced many ups and downs in 2012. First, it was supposed to be demolished. Then it was supposed to be sold, twice, but both deals fell through. Wright built the home in the 1950s for his son and daughter-in-law. Fans hope the home can be granted historical status.

4. Drama surrounds the disappearance of Baby Gabriel

Nearly three years after 8-month-old Gabriel Johnson vanished, drama continued to surround those involved in the case. Recently his mother, Elizabeth, was convicted on charges in connection with the child’s 2009 disappearance and sentenced to prison time. To this day, police still don’t know if the boy is alive.

5. Walmart manager killed during robbery

Valley residents were outraged when a Walmart assistant manager was killed during a robbery in April. Peter Marquez, 47, was gunned down when he approached a robber at the store on 75th Avenue and McDowell Road. The gunman was never caught.

6. Transit strike

A weeklong transit strike in March disrupted the city’s public-transportation system. About half of the Valley Metro’s 101 bus routes were affected. Close to 1,000 bus drivers went on strike over contract disputes.

7. Michael Marin Kills self in courtroom

Just after being convicted for arson on June 28, Michael Marin, 53, slipped something into his mouth.  Minutes later he collapsed and died. It was all caught on video. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office ruled his death suicide by cyanide poisoning.

8. Anthem summer flooding

A July 31 storm dumped 5 inches of rain in about 90 minutes on the community of Anthem. The storm brought flash floods that left streets muddied and homes ruined.  Hundreds of trees were also damaged or destroyed,

9. Mesa woman runs over husband for not voting

A Mesa woman was arrested for reportedly running over her husband because she was angry with him for not voting. Holly Solomon, 28, was charged with aggravated assault . She allegedly believed her family was going to face hardship with an Obama win and her husband's failure to vote.

10. Search for missing ASU student Jack Culolias

A 19-year-old ASU student disappeared after getting kicked out of a bar in Tempe Marketplace. Jack Culolias was last seen getting a cab outside Cadillac Ranch on Nov. 30. An extensive search eventually turned up a body floating in the water nearby. The body was positively identified as Culolias. Police say they do not suspect foul play.

11. Tempe Improv owner found dead

In early June, the owner of the Tempe Improv comedy club was found dead in a hotel room in Buckeye. Mark Anderson, 60, had been missing for weeks. The comedy club had reportedly been struggling. and his family says Anderson had a long history of depression and mental illness.

12. Powerball winner revealed in Fountain Hills

Powerball mania was at a fever pitch when a Fountain Hills man was announced as one of the drawing's two big winners. The second winner of the record $587.5 million Powerball jackpot was identified as Matthew Good. Good took the one-time payout of $192 million from the Nov. 28 drawing.

13. Bill Heywood and wife found dead

Well-known Phoenix radio personality Bill Heywood and his wife, Susan, were found dead in a Scottsdale hotel room back in January. Police said the couple's bodies were discovered by a maid at the Homewood Suites. Each victim had a gunshot wound to the head. Two handguns were found in close proximity to the bodies.

14. Justin Bieber gets sick on stage

"Bieber Fever" hit the Valley in more than one way in September. Justin Bieber's first concert of his new "Believe" tour left many fans in a state of disbelief after the pop star vomited twice on stage during the show. Later on Twitter, the singer blamed the incident on "milk."

15. Mark Grace arrested for DUI

Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Mark Grace was arrested for DUI in Scottsdale back in August. An officer stopped him for an expired registration plate on his vehicle, but after administering field sobriety tests, police say they had probable cause to arrest him for DUI.

16. Queen Creek football players stand up for bullied special-needs student

It was a feel-good story we all needed to hear. Football players at Queen Creek High School took a bullied student under their wing. Chy,16, was born with a brain disorder, and kids picked on her because of her differences. But the football players stepped up, befriending the sophomore, eating lunch with her and looking after her.

17. Valley doc delivers quintuplets

For the second time in three weeks, quintuplets were delivered at a Mesa hospital. California resident Meryl Ferraro gave birth Sept. 26 to three girls and two boys at Mesa's Banner Desert Medical Center.  Meryl's pregnancy was high risk so she and her husband, John, turned to Dr. John Elliot, who is known worldwide for his knowledge of high-order multiples.

18. Paul Babeu controversy

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was cleared of criminal wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he misused his authority in regard to a personal relationship. Earlier in the year, Babeu asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate claims made by his former boyfriend, Jose Orozco, who accused the sheriff of abuse of authority, threats and intimidation.

19. SB 1070

Controversy continued to swirl around Arizona's hotly debated immigration law. Most recently,  the Mexican government urged a U.S. court to stop Arizona from enforcing a minor section of the state's 2010 immigration law that prohibits the harboring of illegal immigrants.

Earlier in the year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the "show me your papers" portion of the law that allows police to investigate a person's immigration status if that person stopped, detained or arrested on other charges and there is reasonable suspicion that he or she is in the country illegally.

20. Phoenix Suns send Steve Nash to Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Nash said farewell to the Suns as he headed to LA as part of a trade.  The two-time NBA MVP received a three-year contract worth more than $25 million. The Suns received multiple draft picks in the deal.

Is there a story you think should be on this list? Share it in the public comments section below!

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